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Oral contraceptive pills, more commonly known as birth control pills or just ‘the pill’ have many purposes beyond just birth control.
Taking them can make your periods more regular, lighter, help with pain associated with periods and acne!
But what does it actually do to your cycle?
In the simplest of terms, the pill tricks your body into thinking that you’re pregnant.
If your body thinks that you’re pregnant and the uterine lining doesn’t thicken (more on how your period actually works here)
That’s when you’re taking the hormone pills, you don’t have a period.
However, if you’re on the pill you actually don’t have any menstrual periods – the uterine lining didn’t thicken and therefore you don’t have it to shed.
When taking the sugar pills (or no pills) in place of the hormone pills, the body experiences something called ‘withdrawal bleeding’.
Withdrawal bleeding is in response to the drop in oestrogen and progestogen (the hormones in the pill) in the body when the pill isn’t being taken.
In fact, the reason sugar pills exist in birth control is because when it was being developed there was concern that women would find not having a period off-putting, as a period can be an indicator that you aren’t pregnant.
So if I’m not having a period can’t I just skip it?
The ‘period’ you have on the pill isn’t only not the same as a regular menstrual period; it’s also not necessary for your health.
If you’re new to the pill or even just to ‘skipping’ your period on the pill, you might experience some breakthrough bleeding (bleeding or spotting in between periods), but that will usually decrease over time as your body adjusts to your new cycle.
If the pill is the right choice for you (which is a conversation to have with your doctor), have as many or as few periods as your heart desires.